Who Am I?


This morning, my sister sent a blog link, http://aleafinspringtime.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/a-guide-to-the-dark-side/

I know I meander in my thinking and writing a lot of the time but I’m really a bottom-line and short-attention-span kind-of-person so clear, concise messages appeal to me.   After reading the blog, a question resurfaced.  I’ve pondered it recently while reading Tolle and The Untethered Soul…if I’m not my emotions and mind voices, then who am I?  All of my life I had determined who I was by what now I understand were egoic standards, what I do – not who I am.   That identity  has changed over my lifetime.  I also unconsciously sensed that I was more than my self-description but never put conscious thought to it until recently.

I’ve known most of my life that my gut is my guide.  It is how I understand my life.  I have so far been able to consistently depend on God speaking to me this way.  It’s about the only constant in my life.  And I am a good listener.   Also, without much thought,  I’ve known that my gut is  always right and I’ve felt very certain of my decisions when I had that gut knowing.   But I don’t always get it when I think I need it and that is when I’ve started, in the past, to question if what I’m hearing in my mind voice is God speaking – or not.  Well, now I know it is not.   I will question no more.  I will quiet myself and wait for my gut knowing.

I didn’t understand the role of the mind chatter and have spent untold hours of emotional pain and anguish, endured many sleepless nights because I engaged and listened and tried to make decisions from there.   Until recently, I didn’t know I had a choice!

I don’t have a problem with all of this when things are going well.  My mind voice gives me some useful information.  It’s when I feel anger, fear, distrust – all of the negative stuff…that’s when the negative mind voices kick in.  And they are scolding, accusing, bring up the worst case scenario – every time – just plain negative thoughts.    They intensify feelings of regret and insecurity… and on and on…

I’m sure I heard or read this somewhere but I’ve found that if I try to watch my thoughts – ask myself, “What are my thoughts right now, what am I thinking?”,  I realize I have no thoughts when I’m doing that.  It helps clear my mind.  Sounds confusing maybe, but try it and see if it works for you.   Deepak Choprah says to concentrate attention on our hands, sensations, tingling.   It breaks the mind cycle.  That works for me as well.

After reading several books and listening to many “messengers”… Oprah, Iyanla, Michael Singer, Maya Angelou, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra..and others, learning to observe  the chatter patterns – I was finally able to put it all together today.   I know that life unfolds and goes on, the sun comes up and goes down, seasons pass…   Life doesn’t cause problems for me.  Challenges, yes.   I’ll bet my problems could almost always be traced back to the negative, dark side  mind voices that are full of misinformation and making problems from my inner issues!  I’m becoming more and more aware of that.

Back to who I really am, while talking about it with my sister this morning, I chuckled to myself.  Funny!  I suddenly remembered  that I had already figured out who I really am.  I had just forgotten for a moment.  In the last month, after Deepak Choprah ask Oprah who she really is, I decided to define myself.   Here I am, 72 years old and I finally figured out that my name (label) is Sharon, and none of my accomplishments define who I am.   They’re a part of what I do, not who I am.

God put me here, in human form,  to express who He is in spiritual form.  I’m a spiritual being, an expression of God. I’m here to express His love, service, grace, peace, comfort, mercy, encouragement – all good things that He is.    A reminder of how I want – and need – to respond, initiate, live my life in a more purposeful way.   I’m a student and a listener living in abundance, passion and love.  Yes!

My spiritual identity, who I really am, is one that that doesn’t change.   Describing what I do is so different from how I do the things I do.     My challenge is to remember why and how I choose to “do” my life.   I have clear guidelines.

What a difference a day makes!  And as usual, I need to write my new AHA moment down so that I don’t forget who I am again… Chuckle.

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Best Friends


I don’t often experience envy but I admit to this one…

There are some couples that just love each other – deeply and honestly.  And I just love being with them.  This is a rare experience for me but I’m fortunate to have two such couples in my life.  One couple are former clients – RC and CC.  We had an almost immediate connection when I picked them up at their hotel and over the years it has grown into  a dear friendship.    The other two are close relatives of my husband, GG,  and her husband, DW.

I was single for almost 20 years and very ambivalent about remarrying – until I met RC and CC.  I acknowledged to myself that I had often pictured marrying my true best friend – spending my retirement years traveling, laughing, reading, exercising, sharing.   The more I got to know RC and CC, the more firm my resolution became to be open to a committed relationship.   I saw that what I pictured could actually be a reality.

DW and GG, RC and CC, all live my dream.  Of course, they have their issues and problems too, but there is an underlying friendship and respect that prevails.  I spent some time with RC and CC a few weeks ago, and for the last few weeks, have been with DW and GG almost every day.

Being around all of them over the last month,  I’m finding myself nurtured and renewed and in an effort to hold on to my feelings, I’m identifying words to express what I experience when I’m with them.  For the most part, I find myself feeling comfort, joy, peace, hope and admiration.

I know about many of their struggles and triumphs, the heartaches and joys of their relationships.  I’ve listened to their stories, shared some experiences with them.  I know their lives have not been without pain, death of a child, infidelities,  serious health issues, long separations while serving in the Military, the stresses of being married to an obstetrician/surgeon – experiences that have torn many couples apart.  But they managed to reach the other side and become even closer.   I’ve watched them handle differences with respect, acceptance, a lot of listening, and humor.   They have a gentleness, even when they’re irritated with each other, have  shown courage to let the other be unhappy or gritchy, sad or happy.  They’re all individuals and seem to know their boundaries.   And they respect those boundaries.

Some words I might use  to describe what I see and feel between them is acceptance, loyalty, safety, generosity, comfort, admiration, respect, gentleness, a deep caring.  A joy in being with each other.  They are truly best friends.    They express differences easily.  They share some activities, tolerating others  just because they prefer to spend time with each other and share a memory.   They both have friends and outside activities but it’s clear that they prefer each other and their time together.   They are present for each other.  They have differences but have learned, over many years, how to express themselves respectfully.   They know that absolutely their partner has their back.  No matter what or who…  And they have traditions – with their families but also between themselves.   Little things.  Some are daily rituals.  DW brings coffee – every morning! – to GG in bed.   He always pulls her car out of the garage and has it ready for her when she’s ready to leave.  She rewards him with a lot of praise and admiration. Every time.  Just like it’s the first time.  She never seems to take him for granted.  All four of them express abundant appreciation for their partners.  Consistently.   When I hear them criticize, when they’ve done something wrong, there’s still a sense in speech and attitude that they’re on that person’s side.   I also know that they’ve hurt each other deeply at times and I’d really love to see how they handle it in private.  Is it the same?  They’ve all just said they try to stay respectful.

Both couples have been together since high school.   They have told me that early years together were not without hurdles and huge adjustments – there were some very difficult times.  Communicating well was not an easy thing to learn.   They all feel that they worked very hard to create their present relationship.  Part of it just evolved as their friendships grew over the years.  They were deeply committed to being best friends and treating each other with respect.   At times, their only expectation was – and is – that they protect their friendship as they would with any other dear friend.

I now realize that when I married, I had some pretty unrealistic expectations.  You’d think that in the time it took to get all of this gray hair, I’d have learned more!  My husband and I  are in the early years of our relationship and I’m discovering that just because we are older – and more experienced in relationships – it doesn’t mean that we can bypass adjustments and difficult times.   We both now have more tools to work with – and we use them a lot!  We are still learning our life lessons.  And that sometimes means double the lesson – we are there for each other while we get through our individual lessons as well.   The single life was so much simpler in many ways – not as rewarding in other ways.  I just believe that a relationship takes us places that we simply can’t get to on our own.   And that’s where I want to be.

My husband and I have been together for almost five years, in our 70’s.  I treasure our relationship and friendship.   We came together with our pasts – our longest history and memories are with others.  We just simply don’t have a lot of time left to create a long history together.    No time to waste on wishing that I had what my friends have but it is a great goal.  I’m busy working on getting as far as possible with that one….  And I will be gentle, appreciate, respect, be grateful.

I will be grateful for the time and progress we have – and will make in our relationship.   We have some great role models.  I want to be that for our children….

Wanting


I was driving down the street today and realized I was feeling very intense.  And my posture was expressing my mental stance.  I wasn’t speeding.  I was just intense.  Then I had an immediate “A HA Moment”.  At almost 72 years of age (however feeling no more than 40 – at the most!) I had a moment of realization – that as a working adult, I have been used to getting what I want.   If I wanted something, I just worked a little harder and got it.  I was not necessarily discriminating in my wants.  And these wants certainly have not always been for myself.  Many times I want to do something for someone else, help someone else.   Sometimes too much.   This morning I was examining my intentions and motivators.   This morning I had a moment of clarity about my long painful lesson and how grateful I am at this moment for what I’ve learned.   It involves ego, self value, intentions, being conscious.  How I’ve tried to fill emotional needs with material things.  The old story.  But now it’s very real to me.

I grew up with very little in the material way.  Our basic needs were barely met.  But we sisters had a lot of fun together and probably because we had very few toys, and of course no tv, became very creative  and found innovative ways to entertain ourselves – built tree houses carpeted with lush moss.  We collected empty cans and boxes to fill our imaginary cupboards.  We usually had a couple of goats  ( I still enjoy them if I don’t have to milk or smell them) and I spent a lot of time following them around and pulling limbs of huge oak trees within their reach – they loved eating the leaves.   We strung laurel tree berries and created beautiful jewelry (to us) – necklaces and bracelets.  We were very competitive – racing and checking to see who had picked the most blackberries and red clover for our Mom.  She gave us a few cents for every quart we picked.  It seemed like a lot of money then.    Our family was large and money was very scarce.  But we had a lot of fun during that time.

My A Ha moment led to thoughts about how I learned to be self-sufficient, creative and so very determined.  There was a point that I remember – in junior high – when I spent much of my time in deep despair and intense “wanting”.  To have things that my school mates had – carefree laughter, nice clothes, a watch, cafeteria lunches instead of homemade bread sandwiches – whole wheat!  Oh no!  Just when white bread was what everyone was eating.   I so wanted to be like everyone else.  And I wasn’t.  I lived in “want”.   I wanted to be different than I was.  I wanted a family that was very close.  I wanted to be close  with my Mom – I wasn’t.  She just wasn’t available.  Neither was my Dad.  They were in a relationship break-down that ended a few years later in divorce.  A very painful and messy divorce.  In a small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business.  Not a fun time.  It was an intense time and I formed some lifelong habits.

The wanting began to be a lifestyle for me.  When I started working at age 14, I discovered that if I wanted something, I could get it.  And that continued and escalated for most of my life.  As an adult, I’ve always had a good job and above-average income.  Eventually I started my own business and literally became a workaholic.  I was lacking in the “relationship department”, to say the least – for many years.    The wanting continued only I didn’t recognize it as “wanting”.  I wanted me – and those closest to me – to have what they wanted.   It was wanting and  it was a habit.  I just worked a little harder if I wanted to do a little more.  I didn’t even get it – but the “wanting” was driving me.   I was trying to keep up with the want habit and I was never enough and I never had enough.  I didn’t think about that consciously – ever.  It didn’t connect for me.   I called it competing with myself to do better.  But I drained myself and was always stressed and “behind”.

I retired a few years ago and my financial picture dramatically started changing shortly after that.  The “A Ha” this morning was a recognition of what has been happening in my life for the last six years.  I was being pushed into a lesson  that I would never have jumped into by choice.  It has been obvious and definite.   This morning as I look back over the lesson years when I was feeling very humiliated and deprived, I realize that I  had all that I needed – and more.   I’m on the other side of this lesson – finally.  And yes – I got it today.  Clearly.   I recognized that for most of my life,  many things I thought were “needs” were actually “wants” and that I needed to learn the difference.  I needed to learn my value (I’m still working on that one) without my props, my things, my kudos.  I am enough.  I say that to others.  I need to listen to myself!

Today, I consciously realize how different my life is now – and why.  During my  involuntary lesson, I was forced to live with less and less, down to real basics – and I learned.    It feels amazing to finally really be living the difference.   With deep gratitude.   I feel a whole new consciousness.   These words don’t begin to define the impact of the reality in my life.  And I can clearly see the difference today.  And I’m grateful.   I’ve almost always questioned myself when spending – do I “want” this or do I “need” this.  But that very rarely had very much to do with my decision.  Today I realized that now it does.

I’ve said the words for years – “as soon as I get something I want, something else will take it’s place.  So just say no”.   I’d tell myself no and then justify reasons for needing it.   Woo Hoo!   I now truly know the difference between wanting and needing.     It’s a new lifestyle that I was forced into by circumstances, part of a lesson, but I’ve come to appreciate it  – deeply.  It’s been an incredibly difficult few years but today I realized how much I’ve grown and the joy that has come into my life.    It’s exhilarating.  Over the last few years, I’ve gotten rid of almost everything that I’m not actually using.  It feels so good.  I was carrying a heavy load of possessions and obligations, chaos and clutter!  Quietly but intensely.   “I don’t have a life” was my mantra for many years.  I kept myself busy even after I retired,  when I wasn’t actually doing something useful, I kept myself busy with stress and “mulling” and inner angst.   Even in my successes, I felt a deep void.  I felt that I didn’t do enough, that I wasn’t enough.    Arrrrgh!

Today I realized that I also have a different view of the wants and needs of those that I’m able help.   I really appreciate that.  Whatever that compulsion was to help others get what they “want” is gone as well.  Now I am free to help people that are in obvious need.   And I feel free to declare that boundary.   It’s such an awesome freedom.    I look for the best use of the comparatively small amount that I have.  I’m finally in control of my wants.  Appearances, status, and ego are not my motivators.  My Dad preached, “Be in control of your money.  Don’t let your money be in control of you”.   Material things do not fulfill my emotional needs.  How many times have I heard and said that!  And thought I understood….

Today I had a few moments of clarity, of remembering how my life used to be.  And how it is now.  Huge difference – in almost every way!   I have a life!   Even with much less, I have freedom!  Wanting is no longer an unconscious habit.  I feel content and relaxed.  I have joy!  My life is so full!

And I’m so very grateful!

Oprah’s Lifeclass Lesson 10: Joy Rising (Flash Mob)


Lesson 10: Joy Rising (Flash Mob)

Every Friday on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah brings us a little bit of joy.  And other days as well.  But watch the Flash Mob…and get happy!
Aired: 10/21/2011
Today’s Question…What’s the one thing about joy that you know for sure?

Oprah’s Lifeclass Notes:  

Joy to me is a feeling of deep gratefulness.  I can create joy by focusing on the many things I’m grateful for.  When I watched Oprah’s South African Christmas for the children I felt intense joy so deeply that I was in tears.  Happy and grateful tears.  When you recognize that somebody cares enough about you to show you that you matter, you never forget it.   It’s great to feel that joy but wow!  the chance to give that feeling to someone else is beyond description!  Like Oprah says, it can be the littlest things.  Little things that make a huge difference.  I feel that way about Kiva.  Many small things I can do each day.  I look for them.

And Jake too!  He loves to perform and he’s a huge fan of Stevie Wonder.  Oprah arranged for Jake to sing for her audience and surprises him when Stevie Wonder starts accompanying him.  It gives me goosebumps every time I see it.  And I watch it over and over.  What fun!  For everyone involved.  We the audience.  Stevie Wonder is obviously enjoying.  Oprah is giddy with joy excitement.  And Jake!  I can’t even imagine that anything will top this in his life.  At least in the department of surprises.  He says it’s his dream come true.  Love those dreams!  And when they come true…well…how amazing is that!  Joy!

Nancy Kay meets Tom Cruise – her dreams fulfilled.

The great thing about joy is that it’s so much fun, so satisfying, so fulfilling to share.   It’s contagious.  It brings laughter, smiles and tears.

Joy comes in all forms?  Elie Wiesel is another guest.  How to bring consciousness and joy to such a horrific tragedy?

Clementine won Oprah’s essay contest – Why is Elie Wiesel’s book, Night, relevant today.  Clementine won the contest.  She also lived thru the genocide  in Rwanda.  In just 100 days, 800,000 people were slaughtered.  Men, women and children killed with machetes.  Bodies dumped.  Clementine was 6 ears old at the time.  She and her sister escaped, believing that their entire family had been killed.  They ended up in the US and for 12 years, had not seen their family.  They searched diligently for their parents.  They last saw their parents in 1994.  In 2001, they discovered that their family was alive.  At the time of the reunion on The Oprah Show, they had not seen their family for 12 years.  Had brothers and sisters that they had never met.  The reunion was “amazing grace” moment (Oprah’s description).  I was so grateful that getting to share that moment, even on TV, well…. and Elie Wiesel was there and shared the moment.   Raw, pure joy!

Followup on Clementine… She is attending Yale University.   Her pencil-case is the only thing that she still has from Rwanda.  It holds her Yale Class of 2013 flag.  Her pencil-case  is her touch of the past and a reminder  that she has to be grateful, quiet and …to complete her school work.  She visited and spoke at  Oprah’s school in Africa – what an inspiration to the other children.  Her story is pretty amazing.

If you can’t find anything to be happy about, to fill you with real joy.  Close your eyes and consider for a moment your breath.  You still have it.  You’re here right now.  Let that fill you up.  And build from there.  Allow yourself to feel, experience the joy.

An Oprah message.


Oprah’s Lifeclass
Oprah’s Lifeclass Lesson 10: Joy Rising (The Flash Mob)
Oprah’s Webcast Lesson 10: Joy Rising (The Flash Mob)
Oprah’s Lifeclass Notes
Today’s Question

Today the sun is shining! In more ways than one…


I’m on R&R.  I’m with my sister.  In her home.  Away from my city and in her territory.  It’s where she’s lived her entire life.   It’s where we grew up but the area and people have changed.   My childhood haunts are long gone.   Stores have different names.  Few landmarks remain.  And the old memories are interesting and intense…

Being with my Sister is being with the best part of me.  I hear about the closeness of twins – that describes my closeness to my Sister.  It’s been so for as long as I can remember.  When we were younger, we kidded that we thought we were each other.  Family and friends referred to us as the cup and saucer.    Hmmm…   Now that we’re in the later years of our lives, we still have a wonderful sisterhood and friendship.  In many ways, she is a sense of  “being home” to me.

There are just the two of us in her home during my visit.  I love her husband – he’s been my brother for almost 60 years and I just love being with him too.  But this is a morning of contentment, ease, acceptance, peace, freedom.    My Sis is upstairs writing and I’m downstairs writing.    We met in the kitchen for a few moments earlier to say that we were headed back to our rooms – and laughed.

I’m so grateful that we still have each other in our lives.   I chuckle when I think back over the stages of our lives, hairstyles (a lifetime of mimicking each others’ haircuts and colors have become a family joke!) and clothes!  So trippy!   So many memories, so many stories.

I just sent her a text asking where she keeps her lemon squeezer.  I kept looking and found it before she answered.  I’ll bet she’s smiling at my second text telling her I found it.   It’s an endearing/not so endearing  ( I feel)  trait of mine – asking before I’ve looked very far.  I think my sense of efficiency (why spend time looking if someone knows the answer already) sometimes prompts me to ask before I look for very long.   (Qualifier….And then again – sometimes I spend way too much time searching for answers –  just for the challenge.)

It’s the littlest things that are making this visit good for my soul.  My sister.  We don’t need words to understand each other but we’ve been known to talk most of the night – and day.  At other times we can sit in the same room playing word games on our phones – with each other!  Or read and not speak for hours.  Our being within eye contact and hugging distance is enough.

Attention, affection, appreciation and acceptance.  My Sister and I.  Basic needs.  Check!

Sister – You are one of the best things in my life, the wind beneath my wings  – and I cherish our relationship.  I love you.

And I’m so happy to be with you again for a bit.

Yes!  The sun is shining!

And will you cut my hair just like yours?

 

Oprah’s Lifeclass Lesson 7: Aging Beautifully
Oprah’s Lifeclass – Today’s Question:  What is the best thing and the hardest thing about being my age?

 

 

Christmas with Mom


This post is written as an entry to a  Christmas With Mom Contest – http://warnerwriting.wordpress.com/christmas-with-mom-contest/.  Join in the fun!  100 words or less by 12/5/11…

My sisters and I knew what we were getting for Christmas.  Every year.  We never had a Christmas tree – Dad’s decision.   But Mom loved Christmas!

Each year, Mom bought each of us one present and it was always clothes.  And she always hid it in the same place – for as log as I can remember.   And we always peeked.

We could hardly wait to open our gifts, our excitement not at all diminished.  But it was not because of finally knowing what we were getting – but that we could finally  wear it.

She never knew….

My Letter to God


These are my personal beliefs.  I think we all have our own path and our own personal belief system.  I respect everyone’s experience and choice.  I agree with Mark Nepo – I’m a student of all traditions – I look to learn from where they all meet.

For me,  there is one God.  Period.  I believe that being may be called by many different names.  Or none at all.

I believe I have a mind, a body and spirit/soul.  My soul is the essence of me.   It is the part of me that loves.   My soul is my spiritual experience and guides my life.  When I manage to be still.  When I listen.  My soul is my guide.  I believe it is God in me. I also call it “my gut”, intuition, a “knowing”.

I pray, mainly when I’m in a difficult place in my life.   I have a running conversation with God – in my head and heart.  Very rarely out loud.(Smile)

One of my favorite books, life changing, I might add, is Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch.  When I was reading it, I wondered if I wrote letters to God if he’d respond to me like he did in the book.  But I never tried.

Last week, On Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, I was listening to her interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.   When I heard Elizabeth say that when she was at her lowest, she wrote a letter to God and he responded to her. Not a booming God voice, not her voice, but it was an immediate response and it comforted her.

Well…I decided to write a letter to God and see if it would work for me.

Ok.  I did it and was given immediate responses.  I recognize that it was the same inner voice that guides me when I talk to God in my head/heart.  To see it in print (I saved the letter), to be able to go back and read it again…well, it’s pretty amazing.   One of the answers was something that I had not thought of.  It was news to me.  It was also really exciting advice.  I did it and it worked.

Whatever it is – it’s adding a new dimension to my life.  I’m grateful.  It’s fun too.

Just thought I’d pass it on…

Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday
Elizabeth Gilbert – Eat, Pray Love
Neale Donald Walsch – Conversations With God